Monday, March 31, 2014

Long term unemployed

The millions of Americans suffering through long stretches of unemployment could be left behind as the economy strengthens, a study by an influential former White House economist found.
Alan Krueger, a respected labor market economist who led President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, said those unemployed long term tended to put less effort into their job hunts than others and were often viewed by employers as undesirable.
The sobering analysis published on Thursday by the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, projected that people out of work for more than six months will increasingly give up their job search in the coming years.
Their plight could be one of the deepest scars left by the 2007-09 U.S. recession.
While the unemployment rate has fallen quickly over the past year, most of the workers getting jobs have experienced only brief stretches of unemployment.
It has yet to be seen whether the long-term unemployed will eventually get jobs as the economy strengthens or drop out of the labor force altogether. Krueger's analysis suggests America is headed towards the latter of those two paths.
"A concerted effort will be needed to raise the employment prospects of the long-term unemployed, especially as they are likely to withdraw from the job market at an increasing rate," Krueger wrote in the paper, which was coauthored by his Princeton University colleagues Judd Cramer and David Cho.
In February, there were 3.8 million people without jobs who had been actively looking for work for at least 27 weeks, nearly three times more than on the eve of the recession.
Krueger and his coauthors found the long-term unemployed were especially prone to dropping out of the workforce. While that pattern is suppressed in the aftermath of recession, the researchers concluded it would reassert itself in coming years.

It also appears unlikely a strengthening economy will benefit the long-term unemployed much. The researchers found that even in states with low jobless rates such as North Dakota, where the economy is booming thanks to surging oil output, the long-term unemployed don't seem to be doing any better.
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

consumer protections for air traveller

English: S7 Airlines Boeing 767-300.
English: S7 Airlines Boeing 767-300. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last fall, Industry Minister James Moore said the federal government was looking to strengthen consumer protections for air travellers. But Ottawa has still not introduced any new measures, leaving passengers to navigate complaints individually.
As a result, Canadians are still waiting for a comprehensive air passenger bill of rights like the European Union has, which would mean higher standards for all airlines and better enforcement.
But passengers do have some rights when air travel goes wrong. Here's what you need to know before you book your next flight.
1. Problem with your luggage? You can be compensated
Don't lose your mind over lost luggage. If your bag gets lost, damaged or delayed, airlines are required to compensate you for reasonable costs until they can get your bag to you.
So, if you're on your way to a business meeting, and the airline loses your suit, you should be able to buy a new one and have the airline reimburse you.
How much you get can vary: It can be up to about $1,900 for international flights; the amount for domestic flights varies by carrier. Air Canada, for example, offers up to $1,500 for reasonable costs for domestic flights.
2. Sitting on the plane for more than 90 minutes? You can get off
Few things are as frustrating as sitting on the runway or at the gate waiting for a takeoff that keeps getting delayed.
Next time that happens, know this: If you're on the plane, and your flight is delayed more than 90 minutes, you have the right to get off the plane, as long as it's safe to disembark.
3. Bumped due to overbooking? You may be able to get cash back for that
You get to the airport and your flight is overbooked. What do you do? Getting bumped is one of the greatest grievances that air passengers can face.
What some passengers don't realize is that airlines are required to offer you some compensation depending on the length of the delay, and they have to offer you the choice of cash or a travel voucher.
For lengthy delays, airlines are also required to give you food or accommodation vouchers as well.
The specifics of what you can get should be laid out in the airline's tariff, which is its contract with you. For Air Canada, a delay of more than eight hours means you could get compensated for up to $800; with WestJet and Sunwing, that figure jumps to $1,300.
4. Delayed luggage? The airline has to hand deliver it to you
If your luggage ends up taking the scenic route, the airline is responsible for hand delivering it to you. So breathe easy, even if your holiday is disrupted because your bag didn't arrive on time, at least you don't have to go back to the airport to get it.
5. Problem with your flight and the airline won't help? There's another place you can go
In Canada, if you feel an airline has not adequately resolved a complaint, you can take the matter to the Canadian Transportation Agency.

The CTA takes complaints about a number of air travel issues and may help you get compensation from the airline.
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Payment processing services for high risk merchants

eComTechnology Payments combines industry veterans to provide clients with a full menu of payment processing services, ranging from credit card and check, to mobile to market readiness campaigns and more.
With over 10 years in the electronic payments and banking, eComTechnology and their associates, offer innovative and creative solutions to accelerate client success. Customized to fit companies of all sizes and all budgets, eComTechnology combines out-of-the box ideas with years of practical business experience.
Says Richardson, CEO: “eComTechnology and I created our firm with the philosophy of working with our clients to co-create cross-functional business solutions that would be customized to fit the individual needs of each organization. The payments industry is such a highly-technical one, with unique needs that other types of businesses don’t have. We have found that the traditional consulting model simply doesn’t apply to companies in our space.”
Jonathan, Managing Director, adds: “We saw a need for a firm that didn’t try to impose a specific one-size fits all methodology upon our clients, but instead offers easily executable solutions that make an immediate business impact. Our goal is to make our client’s work lives easier and more efficient.”
For a full list of services and to learn more about eComTechnology, please visit our website at www.ecomtechnology.com or visit us on LinkedIn.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

developer community have lost confidence in CEO Tim Cook

English: The logo for Apple Computer, now Appl...
English: The logo for Apple Computer, now Apple Inc.. The design of the logo started in 1977 designed by Rob Janoff with the rainbow color theme used until 1999 when Apple stopped using the rainbow color theme and used a few different color themes for the same design. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Apple's shareholders, employees and developer community have lost confidence in CEO Tim Cook, analyst Trip Chowdhry, with investment firm Global Equities Research, told investors in a March 8 report.

Better suited for the job, the firm said, may be a team of Jon Rubenstein—the so-called "father of the iPod," who left Apple for Palm, where as CEO he led the development of webOS and the Palm Pre series of smartphones—and former Apple CFO Fred Anderson, who left in 2004 and was succeeded by Peter Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer last week announced plans to retire in September and will be replaced by Luca Maestri, Apple's vice president of Finance. Rubenstein left Hewlett-Packard (which purchased Palm) in January 2012 and is currently on the boards of Qualcomm and Amazon.  

Apple's lethargic product launch cycle has for some time prompted headlines and kept analysts (if not also consumers) in states between impatient and irked. The market has long been expecting new product categories from Apple—an iWatch and an iTV, namely. But these products seemingly continue to be put off.
In January, BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk told investors that his firm expected a new product capable of generating $5 billion in revenue that never materialized. "We can't say we aren't concerned," Piecyk wrote in his research note.
Apple has said it moves slowly because beauty and perfection aren't things that can be rushed. Global Equities suggests Cook has no reason to rush.

"Cook is being incentivized to operate in a comfort zone of complacency until April 2016," said the report.

It expanded, "Tim Cook's compensation package prior to June 2013 enabled vesting of 500,000 shares in August 2016. This incentive was consistent with Tim Cook being complacent about introducing new products in the near-term and allowed for the systematic destruction of shareholder value of more than $240 billion, the largest destruction of value ever witnesses in the U.S. equity market for a single company."

The report also drove home that loss another way.

"When $63 billion of shareholder wealth was destroyed at Enron, it shook everyone's confidence," states the report. "Apple's destruction of shareholder value is much larger and has occurred in just over 12 months."

The comparison is an awkward one—Enron was overstating its profits, among other sins. But money lost is money lost, and Global Equities recommends replacing Apple's CEO and CFO "sooner rather than later" to prevent "further destruction of shareholder value."

The message the firm is receiving from developers, it said, is the same.

"'Under Tim Cook, Apple has not launched a single new product … where is the iWatch, where is the AppleTV?'" the report said, quoting the developer community at large.

Where Apple did create an opportunity, with the introduction of iBeacon in iOS 7, it squandered it, says the report. Qualcomm "seized the opportunity by creating its own proximity commerce platform called Gimbal."

The firm believes Qualcomm has "beaten Apple in its own game." According to one "frustrated developer," the report added, "Qualcomm, with its Gimbal platform, is eating Apple's lunch. … What is Time Cook gonna do?" - See more at: http://www.eweek.com/apple/apples-tim-cook-should-be-replaced-by-jon-rubenstein-analyst.html#sthash.CfKX8xvR.dpuf
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

bill introduced to ban live performances and captive breeding

Type C killer whales in the Ross Sea. The eye ...
Type C killer whales in the Ross Sea. The eye patch slants forward. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A California lawmaker introduced a bill on Friday to ban live performances and captive breeding of killer whales in the state, a measure that would force the SeaWorld San Diego marine theme park to end is popular "Shamu" shows.
The measure was introduced by state Assemblyman Richard Bloom, who told a news conference his interest in the issue was sparked by last year's documentary "Blackfish," dealing with the treatment of killer whales at SeaWorld parks.
The film, which SeaWorld has criticized as a misleading, inaccurate piece of animal rights propaganda, explores circumstances leading to the 2010 death of a top SeaWorld trainer, Dawn Brancheau, who was pulled underwater and drowned by an orca she had worked and performed with in Florida.
Trainers have not been allowed back into the water with killer whales during performances at SeaWorld parks since Brancheau's death.
The film concludes that keeping killer whales penned up in captivity is inherently cruel and that SeaWorld has persisted in the practice because orcas are the primary attraction in its highly lucrative theme park business.
"There is no justification for the continued display of orcas for entertainment purposes," Bloom said in prepared remarks. "These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives."
SeaWorld, which also operates marine parks in Orlando, Florida, and San Antonio, Texas, called Bloom's proposal "severely flawed on multiple levels" and questioned its validity under the U.S. or state constitution.

The company also said the individuals "he has chosen to associate with for today's press conference are well-known extreme animal rights activists, many of whom regularly campaign against SeaWorld and other accredited marine mammal parks and institutions."
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Federal Communications Commission announces new task force

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...
Logo of the United States Federal Communications Commission, used on their website and some publications since the early 2000s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has announced the formation of a new commission task force, Connect2HealthFCC, that will bring together the expertise of the FCC on the intersection of broadband, advanced technology and health.

Specifically, the task force will consider ways to accelerate the adoption of health care technologies by leveraging broadband and other next-generation communications services.

Wheeler announced Michele Ellison as chair of the task force, and his intent is to name her deputy general counsel.

To advance this broad initiative, Ellison will work hand in hand with the leadership of the commission, in particular with the FCC's director of Health Care Initiatives and the chiefs of the Wireline and Wireless bureaus and Office of Engineering and Technology.

 
"The Commission's top priority must be to make networks work for everyone. Broadband itself is not the goal—it's what broadband enables. We must leverage all available technologies to ensure that advanced health care solutions are readily accessible to all Americans, from rural and remote areas to underserved inner cities," Wheeler said in a statement. "By identifying regulatory barriers and incentives and building stronger partnerships with stakeholders in the areas of telehealth, mobile applications and telemedicine, we can expedite this vital shift."

Ellison had previously served as chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau since 2009. Under her leadership, the commission enforced the Communications Act and the commission's rules—issuing more than $300 million in proposed penalties and settlements and taking nearly 6,000 enforcement actions.

These actions include the $25 million settlement, the largest in FCC history, on "mystery fees" (unauthorized data charges billed to millions of consumers); the $18.25 million settlement addressing improper billing of the Telecommunications Relay Service fund; and two rural call completion settlements.

"Michele brings a wealth of experience to the effort. She is a gifted lawyer and dedicated public servant who has brought her keen leadership skills to bear as a forceful and effective Chief of the Enforcement Bureau," Wheeler said. "I am pleased that she now will use her formidable talents to address this critical challenge." - See more at: http://www.eweek.com/it-management/fcc-launches-task-force-for-mobile-health.html#sthash.qfK19lha.dpuf
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

McDonald's Corp reported a bigger-than-expected drop

English: UK flagship McDonald's restaurant.
English: UK flagship McDonald's restaurant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
McDonald's Corp (MCD.N) on Monday reported a bigger-than-expected drop in comparable global sales for February, hurt again by slow business in the United States.
The world's biggest restaurant chain by revenue said worldwide sales at restaurants open at least 13 months fell 0.3 percent last month. That was below analysts' average estimate for a fall of 0.1 percent, according to Consensus Metrix.
U.S. same-restaurant sales fell 1.4 percent, worse than the 0.6 percent decline that analysts had forecast.
McDonald's Chief Financial Officer Pete Bensen said in a press release that the unchanged global comparable sales so far this year "will pressure margins" in the first quarter.
McDonald's has reported nearly two years of turbulent sales at established U.S. restaurants amid sluggish economic growth, increased competition and internal missteps that have complicated its menus and slowed service.
That performance is heaping pressure on Don Thompson, the chief executive of McDonald's since July 2012, who will face new challenges this year.
Beef prices are hovering near record highs and expected to keep climbing. Labor costs also are increasing: several states have raised their minimum wage this year.

Thompson said in a statement that McDonald's is "intent on improving our business performance." McDonald's said it is trying to draw more customers by improving customer service and menu changes.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

A Delaware judge said Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) should be held liable

English: The Montreal head office of the Royal...
English: The Montreal head office of the Royal Bank of Canada is the Place Ville-Marie's largest tenant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A Delaware judge said Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) should be held liable to former shareholders of Rural/Metro Corp because it failed to disclose conflicts of interest that tainted the $438 million buyout of the ambulance operator.
Bankers at RBC Capital Markets were so eager to collect higher fees that they convinced Rural/Metro directors to sell the company in June 2011 to private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC at an unreasonably low $17.25 per share, wrote Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster of the Delaware Chancery Court.
Former Rural/Metro Corp shareholders are seeking about $172 million from Toronto-based RBC, representing the difference between the buyout price and what they believe the company was worth, according to published reports.
In a 91-page decision dated March 7, Laster, who presided over a four-day civil trial in the case last May, said RBC bankers also concealed their efforts to provide financing to fund the buyout and other transactions, offering the opportunity for "additional and far greater" fees that they coveted.
"RBC created the unreasonable process and informational gaps that led to the board's breach of duty," Laster wrote. "Under the circumstances, RBC's aiding and abetting of the board's breaches of fiduciary duty harmed Rural's stockholders."
Given how RBC misled Rural/Metro directors, "this is not a case where a board's independent sense of the value of the company is sufficient to carry the day," the judge added.
Laster said he would decide later how much RBC should pay former Rural/Metro shareholders in damages, including possibly damages for bad faith.
The decision may make it easier for shareholders to pursue lawsuits claiming they were short-changed in buyouts.

Delaware is the corporate home of more than half of the largest U.S. companies, in part because its laws are often considered more friendly to companies than laws of other states.
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort data collection

English: Main Street at the Magic Kingdom, Wal...
English: Main Street at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA. The photo is taken presumably from the roof of the Walt Disney World Railroad, and the US Flag is in the foreground. In the background is the regal Cinderella Castle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jason McInerney and his wife, Melissa, recently tapped their lunch orders onto a touchscreen at the entrance to the Be Our Guest restaurant at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort and were told to take any open seat. Moments later a food server appeared at their table with their croque-monsieur and carved turkey sandwiches. Asks McInerney, a once-a-year visitor to Disney theme parks: “How did they know where we were sitting?”
The answer was on the electronic bands the couple wore on their wrists. That’s the magic of the MyMagic+, Walt Disney’s (DIS) $1 billion experiment in crowd control, data collection, and wearable technology that could change the way people play—and spend—at the Most Magical Place on Earth. If the system works, it could be copied not only by other theme parks but also by museums, zoos, airports, and malls. “It’s a complete game changer,” says Douglas Quinby, vice president for research at PhoCusWright, a travel consulting firm.
That would suit Disney just fine, as it expands its global empire of theme parks and kicks up efforts to fend off rivals. The most formidable is Comcast’s (CMCSA) Universal Studios, which this summer will unveil a massive expansion of its hit Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at its parks near Walt Disney World.
One hitch for Disney could be if devotees such as the McInerneys find MyMagic+ confining, confusing, or even a bit creepy. Some have lit into it with such vigor on Facebook (FB) and blogs such as micechat.com that Kevin Yee, a former Disney World employee who operates the travel website UltimateOrlando.com, called their grievances “a rolling boulder … and it’s going to be difficult to stop completely.”
Change is always tricky for Disney, especially at its parks, where introducing a new brand of coffee can spark a revolt by fans. Unhappy mouseketeers last year began a petition drive to keep Disneyland in January from pulling the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show after 21 years (it didn’t work). Others marched on the park’s City Hall in 2004 after recalibrations made to the Mad Tea Party ride in the name of safety slowed it down.
MyMagic+ promises far more radical change. It’s a sweeping reservation and ride planning system that allows for bookings months in advance on a website or smartphone app. Bracelets called MagicBands, which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information, serve as admission tickets, hotel keys, and credit or debit cards; a tap against a sensor pays for food or trinkets. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips—which critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.
That tracking power also is what makes them so important for Disney’s $14.1 billion theme park and resort business. Intelligence collected using the bands coupled with what visitors input into the related My Disney Experience app and website—all voluntary—help Disney determine when to add more staff at rides, what restaurants should serve, which souvenirs should be stocked, and how many employees in costume should roam around at any given time. Data about customer preferences could be used to craft e-mails or text messages alerting them to restaurant menu changes or sudden openings for reservations in an expedited queue at Space Mountain or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
The goal is to offer people what Tom Staggs, head of the company’s parks and resorts unit, calls “a more immersive, more seamless, and more personal experience”—allowing Disney employees to address a child by name, for example, or wish someone a happy birthday. “The implications for big data and for personalization are extraordinary,” says Quinby. “It could radically change interaction between customers and the company.”
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Air Canada is considering new fees and fare increases

Air Canada Boeing 747-133 C-FTOC at Zurich Int...
Air Canada Boeing 747-133 C-FTOC at Zurich International Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Air Canada is considering new fees and fare increases to make up for a weaker Canadian dollar, Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu has told Bloomberg news service.
“There are going to be some revenue strategies and some cost strategies,” Rovinescu said, without giving specifics of what increases the airline might be planning.
The news comes as Air Canada and WestJet both reported its flights were not as full in February 2014 compared to a year ago.
Air Canada has increased its capacity, as measured by available seat miles, by 4.9 per cent compared with February 2012, but passenger traffic increased 3.8 per cent. That gave it a load factor of 79 per cent, down from 79.8 per cent a year ago.
WestJet's load factor fell to 84.6 per cent from 86.1 per cent in February 2013. WestJet  has increased capacity by 9.2 per cent, while traffic increased by 7.3 per cent.
The numbers are considered a positive sign, given the cold weather which resulted in many cancelled flights and a late Easter, which moved many people’s travel plans until later in the spring.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. cut its revenue expectations Friday due to softer domestic demand saying revenue will be flat to down slightly from the previous year.
The lower Canadian dollar has hurt both airlines as it raises the price of both jet fuel and new planes.
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Friday, March 21, 2014

English: Deutsche Bank Twin Towers in Frankfur...
English: Deutsche Bank Twin Towers in Frankfurt, Germany Deutsch: Deutsche-Bank-Hochhäuser in Frankfurt am Main (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you belong to an organization accused of gold market manipulation, it's probably not advantageous if your cohort goes by the nickname "the gold fix."
But that is the somewhat unfortunate moniker for the London Gold Market Fixing Ltd., a body of five banks -- Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS), Barclays (BCS), Deutsche Bank (DB), HSBC (HSBC), and Société Générale -- that meets twice daily to set the spot price for the world's most famous precious metal.
MORE: 4 reasons the gold market looks super shady right now
The group has come under scrutiny in recent months, with the latest blow being a federal lawsuit filed this week in New York, in which investor Kevin Maher is accusing the banks of manipulating the price of gold, causing him to lose money on his gold futures investments. The suit relies on the as-yet-unpublished work of Rosa Abrantes-Metz, the economist and whistleblower whose work helped uncover the LIBOR-manipulation scandal.
Abrantes-Metz's research reportedly identifies strange trading patterns around the times that the banks meet to determine gold prices. According to her research, "The structure of the benchmark is certainly conducive to collusion and manipulation, and the empirical data are consistent with price artificiality ... It is likely that co-operation between participants may be occurring."
The lawsuit follows reports that Germany's financial regulator, Bafin, has been investigating manipulation in the gold markets. According to BloombergElke Koenig, the president of the German regulator said in January that manipulation in the gold markets could be worse than the LIBOR-rigging scandal of 2012, which has cost banks roughly $6 billion in fines.
So what exactly is the gold fix, and why do we have it? Like a lot of institutions in global finance, this is one that justifies itself through tradition as much as necessity. The gold fix dates back to 1919, when the five leading gold dealers would meet in London every morning to settle on a price for physical gold sales. Over time, the gold fix added an afternoon meeting to accomodate traders in the U.S., and members eventually began to conduct the meeting via teleconference. The Maher complaint explains the mechanics:
  • First, the lead participant begins the fixing by proposing a price near the current spot price.
  • Second, firms declare how many bars of gold they want to buy/sell at the current market/spot price. This is based on current and contemporaneous client orders (those entered during the call) as well as proprietary need of each member.
  • Third, the price is then increased or decreased until the buy/sell amounts are within 50 bars, at which point that price becomes the spot price for gold.
The process is said to take anywhere between a few minutes to an hour. And though no wrongdoing has been proven, you can see how a setup with so few banks could be susceptible to collusion and price manipulation.

So far, the only sign of an official response to these allegations has come from Germany, as it was reported in December that German regulators have seized documents from gold fix member Deutsche Bank, which subsequently hired a consultant to help it "undertake an assessment" of the bank's role in the gold fix. The bank is also reportedly looking to sell its seat on the gold fix, possibly to a state-owned Chinese bank.
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Visa and MasterCard team up to improve security

MasterCard
MasterCard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc, the world's two largest payment networks, have formed a new cross-industry group to improve payment system security following a number of high-profile data breaches.
The new group, which will include banks, credit unions, retailers and industry trade groups, will initially focus on the adoption of the safer 'EMV' chip technology in the United States, MasterCard and Visa said on Friday.
EMV chip technology, already used in Europe and Asia, stores information on computer chips rather than on traditional magnetic strips. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the companies that launched the technology.
The move follows several data breaches at U.S. retailers, including one at Target Corp late last year involving the theft of about 40 million credit and debit card records.
"We remain insistent that U.S. retailers' customers be given the same protections as consumers in more than 80 countries who have both a chip and a PIN securing their credit and debit cards," National Retail Federation General Counsel Mallory Duncan said in a statement.
MasterCard and Visa had already set a deadline of October 2015 for U.S. retailers to adopt the new payment technology.
But banks and retailers have been dragging their feet over the required upgrade, at odds over who should bear the cost, which experts say could be as much as $10 billion.
Target said last month it was accelerating a $100 million program to implement the use of chip-enabled smart cards to protect against cyber threat, with a goal to have the technology in place by early 2015.
EMV cards are harder to counterfeit and better protect sensitive data through encryption.

They can also require users to enter a personal identification number, or PIN, to make purchases, adding an extra layer of security.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

British telecoms group Vodafone (VOD.L) has reached a preliminary deal

Vodafone Logo
Vodafone Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
British telecoms group Vodafone (VOD.L) has reached a preliminary deal to buy Spanish cable group Ono after raising its initial bid for the company, two people with knowledge of the discussions said on Friday.
The private equity-backed Ono, which sells fixed and mobile phone, TV and internet services, rebuffed an earlier bid from Vodafone in February and decided to go ahead with a planned initial public offering that would value the company at 7 billion euros ($9.6 billion), including debt.
Sources said Vodafone's bid would have to be substantially higher than that value to persuade Ono and its private equity shareholders to drop the listing.
"A meeting took place yesterday between the shareholders and (Vodafone Chief Executive) Vittorio Colao. The due diligence will start this weekend in order to make the offer binding," said one of the sources.
A second source said Ono's private equity shareholders told Vodafone at the meeting that the offer would have to come before March 13, when the cable group is due to formally go ahead with the plan to list on the Madrid stock exchange.

Both Ono and Vodafone declined to comment.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Roku Streaming Stick HDMI version

Roku
Roku (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Image representing The Roku Player as depicted...
Image via CrunchBase
Streaming media platform Roku announced the Roku Streaming Stick HDMI version, a tiny Roku player that gives consumers a way to access a wide selection of streaming entertainment on TV.

Once plugged in, the Streaming Stick lets consumers start streaming from more than 1,200 channels (more than 750 channels in Canada, the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland) of movies, TV episodes, music, news, sports, kids' shows and free programming, and all in up to 1080p HD video.

Recently launched channels include Conde´ Nast Entertainment, Showtime Anytime, Watch ESPN, Watch Disney Channel and YouTube. The new stick has a suggested retail price of $49.99 in the United States and will ship to consumers and arrive in retail stores in April.

"The new Roku Streaming Stick gives consumers more choice for streaming entertainment to the TV than any other device," Jim Funk, senior vice president of product management at Roku, said in a statement. "Consumers want a ton of entertainment, an easy way to search for movies and TV shows, and options to control the experience with a remote or mobile device. This new Roku Streaming Stick brings all that and more–and in a tiny form factor."
In Search of the Long-Term Archiving Solution - Tape Delivers Significant TCO Advantage over Disk
Roku’s original streaming stick, the Streaming Stick Roku Ready version, which the company launched in 2012, will be bundled at retail with Roku Ready devices.
In 2013, Roku certified 60 different products from 14 partners who shipped more than 2.5 million Ready devices, most of which were televisions. There are currently 20 Roku Ready partners in the program, the company said.

The HDMI version of the Streaming Stick features the compact stick design offered by Roku and plugs into an HDMI port that’s ideal for wall-mounted TVs.

The household can use the included remote control to access the Roku user interface with shortcuts to movies, TV shows, news, the Roku Channel Store, Roku Search and more. - See more at: http://www.eweek.com/small-business/roku-hdmi-streaming-stick-offers-access-to-netflix-youtube.html#sthash.KvhZTT6i.dpuf
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Wireless carriers hike prices across Canada

Wireless carriers hike prices across Canada

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tesla expanding in Europe

English: Tesla Model S sedan
English: Tesla Model S sedan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tesla has already made it possible for owners of its Model S electric car to drive coast-to-coast in the United States via its free, fast Supercharger network without adding a drop of gasoline to the car. Now the company is adding "30 new service centers and stores across the continent," as well as Supercharger stations by the end of 2014.

Today at the Geneva Motor Show Tesla said, by the end of the year, owners of the Model S will be able to go "almost anywhere" in Europe using only Superchargers

With the largest battery option drivers can travel roughly 300 miles driving 55 miles per hour. So its not surprising that with fewer than 50 charging stations in Europe the company could cover much of the continent. Will drivers be able to take the most convenient route from point A to point B? Not always. But more options will likely come in time. 

In addition to its accolades in the United States, the Model S is also popular in Europe. The car was named "car of the year" in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden

By the end of the year, Tesla expects its combined sales in Europe and Asia to be double its North American sales. Tesla had more than 22,000 global deliveries in 2013.
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

UN powers failing in Syria

English: International Criminal Court (ICC) logo
English: International Criminal Court (ICC) logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
All sides in Syria's civil war are using shelling and siege tactics to punish civilians and big powers bear responsibility for allowing such war crimes to persist, U.N. human rights investigators said on Wednesday.
In their latest report documenting atrocities in Syria, they called again on the U.N. Security Council to refer grave violations of the rules of war to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.
"The Security Council bears responsibility for allowing the warring parties to violate these rules with impunity," the report by the U.N. commission of inquiry on Syria said.
"Such inaction has provided the space for the proliferation of actors in the Syrian Arab Republic, each pursuing its own agenda and contributing to the radicalization and escalation of violence."
Divided world powers have supported both sides in Syria's three-year-old conflict and a diplomatic deadlock has exacerbated the bloodshed.
The independent investigators, led by Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro, said that fighters and their commanders may be held accountable for crimes, but also states which transfer weapons to Syria.
Syrian government forces under President Bashar al-Assad have besieged towns including the Old City of Homs, shelling relentlessly and depriving them of food as part of a "starvation until submission" campaign, the report said.
It said the Syrian air force had dropped barrel bombs on Aleppo with "shocking intensity", killing hundreds of civilians and injuring many more.
Insurgents fighting to topple Assad, especially foreign Islamic fighters including the al-Qaeda affiliated ISIS, have stepped up attacks on civilians, taken hostages, executed prisoners and set off car bombs to spread terror, it said.

The 75-page report, covering July 15-January 20, is the seventh by the United Nations since the inquiry was set up in September 2011, six months after the anti-Assad revolt began.
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